Henley Primary Schools Remember WW1 Soldiers With Poetry
On Friday 10th November, Henley’s local primary schools braved the cold for a sentimental memorial service at Makins Recreation Ground. A collection of Year 5 children from Badgemore, Sacred Heart, Valley Road, St Mary’s and Rupert House gathered in the field on Greys Road for a special commemorative event, organised by councillor David Eggleton.
The annual event was started by Councillor Eggleton in 2014 to honour the British servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice. Each year, local school children have been encouraged to consider the fallen soldiers with a different mark of remembrance. 2016 saw the schools assemble to create a large poppy shape for an aerial picture, whilst one year involved the planting of real poppies (yet to resurface). David commented, “They say poppies grow everywhere. They grew for one year and haven’t come back again!” The hillside is no longer short of poppies, however, as on Friday, each child planted a small poppy-adorned cross in the flowerbed.
This year, poetry was used as the manner of remembrance. Before the event, the Year 5 classes were invited to collectively write a poem about what remembrance meant to them. The 9-10 year old students combined their ideas to create each thought-provoking piece, read out by a handful of class representatives on Friday. The select children presented their poems to each other, along with an attentive audience of teachers, Mayor Kellie Hinton, John Green (Chairman of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion), Councillor David Eggleton, and a few parents. The field was silent but for the poignant words of the children, each poem as moving and emotive as the next.
Mayor Kellie Hinton was amazed by the children’s work, declaring to the them, “It was absolutely wonderful to hear your poems. Your teachers must be so incredibly proud of how you chose to remember. Thank you for putting such huge effort into those beautiful words.” Speaking of this year’s poetry task, she said, “Kids think organically, their thought processes are really honest. You get a different perspective though a child’s eyes.”
John Green, who wowed the children with tales of his father’s medals, was also touched by the students’ poetry. He said, “It’s fantastic to get the children involved. It’s become an annual ritual now, which is great.” Keen to communicate the importance of remembrance to the group, he explained the meaning of the poppy on the crosses they planted. “The poppy is a symbol of peace, not of war, but of peace. It’s also a symbol of hope. Although this is commemorative, it’s also hope for the future.” Finally, he expressed his gratitude for the children’s efforts, announcing, “I personally am very proud to see you all here.”
The crosses planted by the children can be seen from the Greys Road, lining the entrance to the park. They will stand as a mark of remembrance for those who bravely fought and fell defending their country.
I Don’t Know, by Clara
What do I think?
How do I feel?
Why do I live?
What about the fallen?
What did they think?
How did they feel?
Why do they no longer live?
I don’t know…
I just remember…
Sacred Heart’s Poem
Remember everyone who didn’t see the next sun rise,
Every day we will not forget them,
More people have died than we could ever imagine,
Every year poppies will rise; wear yours with pride,
May we be silent to pray and keep them in our hearts,
Buried in unmarked graves,
Everyone gather on remembrance day,
(To) Remind us of the peace the fallen have brought.